The Slovenia Times

Slovenian defence industry gets a boost

Industry & AgriculturePoliticsScience & Technology

Slovenian companies have struck deals with the Defence Ministry to supply anti-aircraft turrets for tanks and a drone with chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear surveillance capability. They will also be supported in development of green solutions for the defence sector.

Defence Minister Marjan Šarec hailed the deals on 7 June as a major milestone because the ministry is not only building military capacity but also involving the local defence industry in the process.

Five million for anti-aircraft turret

In one of the projects, the Defence Ministry will financially support the development of the Mangart 25 turret, which involves several Slovenian defence companies.

Valhalla Turrets, along with Ash, Guardiaris, Carboteh Technologies and Leokom, will develop a 25mm remote controlled turret in a project that is expected to be completed within two years. The ministry will chip in €4.9 million by 2025.

The turret will first be used on Oshkosh light tactical vehicles, which Slovenia purchased from the US last year.

Because of its modular design, it will be possible to use it on other army vehicles, equip it with weapons of a different calibre or additional systems like machine learning algorithms, drones, anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles.

The Mangart 25 will mainly target drones, other aircraft and land targets as far as 3 kilometres.

Valhalla Turrets director Miloš Milosavljević said the company had designed and built a turret for the Luwa light armoured personnel vehicle for the German Defence Ministry, and had also been involved in the Skyranger 30 project.

CBRN surveillance drone

The ministry also signed a contract with Arctur for the purchase of a drone with upgrade capabilities for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) surveillance as part of the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) project.

The project consortium, coordinated by Austria, brings together Hungary, Croatia, and Slovenian companies C-Astral, Mil Sistemika, IOS, Onedrone and Arctur.

The drone is a technology demonstrator for the recognition of CBRN situations in a contaminated environment. The €1.1 million contract includes pilot and operator training until August 2024.

According to Arctur director Tomi Ilijaš, a system like this does not exist on the market yet. The consortium is planning to offer it on the global market in the future.

The CBRN military unit was one of the first to respond to the Melamin chemical plant explosion last year, which is why this drone is a good example of dual use for both military and civilian purposes, said Šarec.

Greening the defence sector

The ministry also signed a letter of intent for cooperation in the European project INDY, which is coordinated by the Maribor-based innovation hub TECES.

One of the first green transition projects in the defence sector, it brings together nine countries and 22 companies and institutions. It will focus on designing energy independent and efficiently deployable military camps.

The project worth €14.2 million will be fully funded by the European Defence Fund. The universities of Ljubljana and Maribor along with other Slovenian stakeholders will receive more than €2.5 million in grants.

TECES director Matej Gajzer noted that the defence sector is normally leading in technology development, except when it comes to the Green Deal, where most innovations come from civilian life to the military sector.

The project is a great opportunity for Slovenia to highlight local companies that are some years ahead of European players, said Gajzer, as preparations for parallel projects are already in place.

Some 40 Slovenian partners will take part in the development of solutions they can offer to Europe in the next three years, Gajzer said.

"We are approaching the goal of investing two percent of the defence budget in research and development," said Šarec. "This year we provided €13 million, next year €23 million, which will exceed the 2% mark."


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